By Chris Seiter

Updated on March 21st, 2022

Today we’re going to be taking a look at the major signs that an insecure ex will come back to you. First things first, what is an insecure ex?

Personally we define an insecure ex as someone with an insecure attachment style. Either they are overly anxious or overly avoidant. Sometimes both.

Now, we’ve written in the past about signs exes are considering coming back but we’ve never really done that within a theme. So, this article is going to focus heavily on those signs that an insecure ex is interested in coming back to you and yes the signs are slightly different.

  1. The nudge principle
  2. The nostalgic reverie principle
  3. They give themselves permission to be emotionally intimate with you
  4. The fishing pole analogy begins to work
  5. They focus on those peak moments a little too much

Let’s begin.

Sign #1: Understanding The Nudge Principle

The first thing you need to understand about the nudge principle is that it’s deeply rooted in attachment psychology. Now, I’ve talked a lot in the past about attachment styles but there’s one I really want to focus on for this article, avoidants.

According to our internal research most of the people going online and typing in, “signs an ex will come back” will have anxious attachment styles while their exes tend to be avoidant by nature.

This is why so much of the content that we write is geared towards avoidant attachment styles. So, what is an avoidant attachment style?

You are considered to have an avoidant attachment style if you crave intimacy but you don’t let anyone close enough to give you that intimacy. You value self sufficiency and independence in relationships more than anything else. In fact, the perfect relationship for you is one where you can always have one foot out the door.

Does this sound like your ex?

If it does then they probably have avoidant attachment style behaviors. So, where does the “nudge principle” come into play?

Well, this is something that Coach Anna and I talk about in this video,

The Nudge Principle: When a dumper entertains the idea that they may potentially be thinking of reconnecting with you they’ll send subtle tests your way to see how you’ll react. They’re looking for a sign that indicates you want them back.

These subtle tests will usually be so slight and insignificant that you wouldn’t even recognize them as tests.

Some of the most popular examples of “nudges” are,

  • Subtle flirting
  • Seeing how you respond to future pacing things
  • Bringing up the past to see your reaction

And it fits with the insecure attachment (avoidant.) They don’t want to let you close so they’d rather put you through a series of internal tests before they allow themselves to open up to you.

Kind of like a boxer slowly jabbing to soften an opponents defenses up before they throw the knockout shot.

That’s the nudge principle.

Sign #2: The Nostalgic Reverie Principle

This is probably the most important video that I’ve ever filmed on the nostalgic reverie principle before,

In it is when I first posited probably the most mind blowing thing about insecure attachment styles (avoidant exes.)

Generally speaking they don’t allow themselves time to miss an ex until they feel like that ex has moved on. Only then do they feel safe enough to grieve and reminisce about the past.

This is often why we see avoidants reaching out so far after the breakup. They fall victim to what is termed, “the phantom ex syndrome.” Essentially they long for an ex that they can no longer have.

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Only then does the nostalgia kick in for them.

I’ve even pointed towards an interesting time dilation factor at play here. Our research has indicated that anxious individuals grieve immediately during the onset of the breakup where avoidant individuals typically don’t start until they feel safe when you’ve moved on from them.

We also know it’s rare for an avoidant to reach out to you after a breakup. The exception there of course is during this nostalgic reverie principle. When they are at the height of “remembering the good times” you’ll usually receive a reach out from them.

When does this typically happen?

I’ve seen it take as long as a year before. Probably the quickest I’ve ever seen was 1.5 months.

Sign #3: They Give Themselves Permission To Be Emotionally Intimate With You

What do we know about the most common insecure attachment within our clients exes?

They value their independence more than anything else and like to exist in this space where they can daydream about you but never let you close enough to provide what they want.

That’s the great paradox of the avoidant.

They crave intimacy yet they won’t let you close enough to provide it to them.

Probably the best representation of this I’ve seen depicted in Hollywood comes from the movie 500 days of summer. The movie essentially charts the relationship, breakup and post breakup period of a couple.

We have our protagonist, Tom,

He exhibits all the natural characteristics of someone with an anxious attachment style.

  • He’s desperate to get a girlfriend
  • He does crazy things to get said girlfriend
  • He breaks out into crazy dances because of said girlfriend,

And then we have the films avoidant antagonist, Summer, which the film is named after,

The beauty of the movie is that it’s a perfect example of what an avoidant/anxious pairing looks like in real life.

It’s great at first but by the end the anxious persons need for validation exasperates the avoidant and they end up leaving. Nevertheless, there is one part of the film that I think is incredibly profound and gives us a key insight into when an avoidant allows themselves to be vulnerable.

It’s this line in the film (I couldn’t find a video sorry 🙁 .)

It’s this moment where Summer finally opens up to Tom and allows herself to be emotionally vulnerable. The scene ends with her saying,

“I’ve never told anyone that before.”

That’s such a key moment because we see this with avoidants. If you can get them to open up to you to this level then it’s an incredibly good sign.

Now, here’s the rub.

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Usually if you do get them to open up to you on this level things are great in the moment and the next day they completely disappear.


Sign #4: The Fishing Pole Analogy Begins To Work

My advice for dealing with an avoidant insecure attachment can be summed up in one phrase.

When they pull back, you pull back

This something the anxious person has an incredibly hard time with because the anxious person is ruled by a fear of abandonment but the analogy I always like to use is it’s like going fishing.

You have this ex who you’re trying to figure out if they want you back or not but they’re extremely hot and cold. Most people make the mistake of doing this,

They just aggressively try to reel that ex in hoping to get a definitive answer. Yet the successful people take a more nuanced approach. They try to reel their ex in but when the avoidant nature rears its head and they start to pull away or disappear they give their ex space.

They just continually do this time and time again and pretty soon you start to notice that fish is reeled in pretty close.

Sometimes our clients do this naturally without recognizing it at all but all they’re really doing is giving their ex space which is exactly what a secure attachment style would do.

Sign #5: They Focus On The Peak Moments A Lot

I’m pretty annoying when I talk about this but I’m going to do it again because of its importance,

The peak end rule is a psychological principle that posits our memories are generally based on two distinct points, the peak moments and the end moments of the memory.

This sort of harkens back to sign #2 with the nostalgic reverie. Generally speaking what happens is that when an insecure ex goes through that nostalgic reverie moment they start thinking back to the peak positive moments that the two of you were together.

So, one of the best signs you can use to determine your ex wants you back is to pay attention to the peak memories they bring up. It’s incredibly rare for an avoidant ex to bring up a memory that’s emotionally charged so if they are doing so and it’s positive relating to you it gives you some insight into what’s going on in their head.


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